How Roland’s JC-120 became the king of solid-state guitar amps

Roland JC-120
(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

In recent years, advances in digital modelling amps have, at last, offered a variety of non-tube amps that most of us would be happy to use in one context or another. But prior to the digital revolution, the much-maligned analogue transistor guitar amp was generally regarded as a poor relation to classic valve amps. There were, however, some honourable exceptions…

B.B. King used Lab Series amps at one point, as did Allan Holdsworth, and British-made Award Session amps were used by Clapton on his 1986 August album and remain well respected. But the undisputed king of solid-state amps is Roland’s beefy 120-watt, chorus-equipped JC-120 – which became standard kit in studios around the world and has appeared on scores of hit records – primarily for its pristine-yet-warm clean tones. 

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.

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